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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  October 29, 2010 1:00pm-1:30pm PST

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. one of the key questions in races among the country is turnout among hispanic voters. a look at the importance of latino voters. with julian castro, considered to be a rising star in the democratic party. he is the and this mayor of any of the top 50 u.s. cities. a remarkable story of ingrid betancourt. she was kidnapped and held captive in the jungle for more than six years. they claim to new book about her ordeal is called "even silence has an end". we are glad you have joined us. mayor julian castro and ingrid
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betancourt next. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is happy to help tavis improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: at the age of 23, julian castro became the youngest
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mayor. he is the mayor of san antonio, the youngest mayor of any of the top 50 cities. he joins us from san antonio. i am honored to have you on the program. >> great to be with you. thanks for having me. tavis: the president himself has been talking about this enthusiasm gap among democratic voters. let me ask you what there is that hispanic voters have to be enthused about in october -- in the elections given the immigration issue has energized latinos on the one hand but depressed them on the other. given that nothing in washington has happened on this issue. >> you are right that there has been a lot of concern expressed about the latino vote in this election cycle. and what percentage of latinos is going to come out particularly because during the last couple of election cycles as you know, the latino vote has
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been rising significantly. i do believe that latinos will come out ultimately because of a couple of things. the immigration issue has stirred the pot. there is no question about that. particularly in states like arizona, nevada, other states that look to be taking up an arizona-like law. the obama administration has made progress on several of the issues that matter to the latino community. healthcare is a good example. a second example is access to educational opportunities. higher education, making student loans more affordable. there is a lot of distance between here and there in terms of informing folks but i do think as the closing days of this campaign happen with all the social media and television
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advertising, door-to-door, rich, i do not believe that the latino enthusiasm gap is going to be quite as bad as a lot of folks thing. tavis: you can find something written somewhere to support your belief as we head toward election day next tuesday. i keep reading in a variety of places the hispanic community may set this out as a protest of both republicans and democrats who again did not get anything done this year on the issue of immigration. >> that is right. congress did not do that and the president did not forward and immigration bill to congress for consideration. there is no question that that has not happened. at the same time, i do think the only way in this american democracy that you can have anyone in washington listen to you is if you participate, if
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you vote. if you do not vote, history has shown that does not work very well. folks do not listen to you if you are not going to make your opinion known. the best course for latinos truly is to get out there and participate and the fact that a comprehensive immigration reform has not happened yet is more reason for folks to get out there and vote. i have been scratching my head over this last year because if latinos do not get out and vote after arizona does what it did, after 23 states say they want to do the same thing that arizona did, when are you going to get out and vote? after we see candidates like sharron angle that are scapegoating the community, it makes sense to go vote.
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tavis: i was reading this earlier today in places like florida and nevada and new mexico. there are republican latinos on the ballot who are running competitive races, a serious races at the governors' lovell and the senate level. what do you make of the fact with all the republican party has done on this immigration issue to upset the community, the persons from your community who happen to be running the most high-profile races are not democrats but republicans? >> politics is an interesting endeavor. in -- sometimes, that is the way things work out. in this election cycle, it does seem to be the republican party that has the higher profile hispanic candidates although generally, many more of the elected officials who are hispanic or democratic and in the last presidential cycle, it was over two-thirds of the vote
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that went for president obama. it is also a reminder to the democratic party. a reminder that you cannot take hispanics for granted. you cannot think you have folks in your corner, in your back pocket and their interests like any other interest of hoekstra the u.s., that their interests should not be met with a substantive response. the latino community like any other folks in the u.s., they are going to vote with the party that meets their needs. tavis: does that mean you think the democratic party has taken hispanic voters for granted? >> i think from time to time, there have been times that the democratic party has probably not paid as much attention to the community, not been as responsive as i could. i will say that having said
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that, that is calling a spade a spade, they have been much more responsive and much better on the issues generally than the republican party has. i saw that ad that ran in nevada or almost ran by a republican operative, encouraging hispanic voters not to vote. that is the kind of dirty tricks that do not belong in any election cycle and should give a lot of folks pause about the real motives behind a certain campaign. in nevada, the republican party. tavis: your profile is high because you happen to be so young now and when you got involved in the political arena. president obama has been stumping awfully hard trying to motivate young people to get involved. i am not talking about just hispanics but young people across the board. what say you about the enthusiasm and output two years
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ago when obama was on the ballot and what appears to be a lack of enthusiasm on the part young people now? >> again, there is no question that this 2010 election cycle with respect to young people is not the 2008 election cycle in terms of the enthusiasm, motivation, the kind of i cannot wait to vote added to the young people had during that election cycle. i will say i am encouraged by some of the early voting members that we see coming out of several states. -- voting numbers that we see coming out of several states. as a percentage -- i do not think it will be as dire as a lot of folks have predicted. what the administration has accomplished on access to higher education and affordable student loans on health care will be a boon to young people in the coming years and hopefully, young people will consider that. castro, thank you
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for time. up next, a former colombian presidential candidate ingrid betancourt on her six year hostage ordeal. stay with us. ingrid betancourt was the candidate for president in colombia when she was kidnapped and held hostage because of her anti-corruption stance. the subject of the acclaimed text "even silence has an end". we are honored to have you on this program. i will ask you about the title. neruda, herom pablo thinks of what people will say
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about him the day he will die. he says my word will remain because even silence has in hand. silence like death. when i was in captivity at a moment when i was sick and i thought that perhaps dying was my best option, the voice of my father came back to me, because my father used to recite those verses to us. it helped me cling to life and for me the title is victory over despair, over darkness, over pain and over death. >> you were taken captive taliban? you were campaigning, set the stage. >> it was early in the morning and i took a plane to florencia. i ha td toived
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take a road to san vincente wher government was having peace talks with the farc. those talks ended two days before my trip. the president of columbia at the time was very adamant in saying we are reclaiming this zone. we are evicting the farc from the zone. when i arrived, everything was militarize. the president was going to the same place i was at the same moment. in the moment i was going to take the trip, and enter the cars to begin the road, my escort received an order from the president saying they could not come with me. for me to -- this was a political move, he did not want me to go and if by withdrew my
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security -- he was able to control my campaign. i thought it was serious. i decided i had to go. i went with no bodyguard. the road was clear. there was maybe soldiers everywhere. i thought it was secure enough and i stumbled in a group of armed guys with guns and uniforms and in colombia, we used to know that the boats those guys -- the boots were leather, they were the army and rubber boots were the farc. tavis: was a mistake to have gone down that road by yourself? you were held captive for a six plus years.
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was it a mistake in retrospect to have gone down the road? >> fy had the same amount of information and the same choices and confronted the same principles, i had been thinking and i have to go? , have done something different? i always come to the same conclusion. i could not do anything different. the people in the mayor had called me asking me not to cancel because they were -- asking me to cancel because they were afraid. there were participating in the peace talks. the rebels would take revenge and kill them. there were waiting for me to shelter them and shield them from the paramilitary. there was this issue about democracy. i was a presidential candidate
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and i wanted my country to be clean and democratic. here are was in front of a government that was manipulating my security to prevent me from doing my campaign. i thought, and could not be blackmailed. tavis: in our country, we would think it a very bold move to kidnap one who has been a member of the house of representatives, to kidnap one who was a sitting united states senator. you have to be a stuck on stupid to think you are kidnapping a senator and that is what happened to to you. you were in the house and the senate, and you were kidnapped. was that a bold move on their part in colombia? are things like that possible and happen often or from time to time? >> what happened is the reaction of the government and the society was a reaction where
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they decided to forget us. they did not want to negotiate with terrorists. tavis: but you were a government official. >> yes. there is a difference in the way people react. in colombia, there was not solidarity at the moment for us. it changed. after six years and a half, the country changed. the sensitivity of people to order situation changed. i could hear the people saying we have sacrificed the hostages and we cannot negotiate with terrorists. it was hard for us to feel like abandonment. i was thinking ok, i am abducted because i was doing politics, because i want to change my country, because i am devoted. now that i need support, i am abandoned. it was very hard for me. things have changed and i was
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rescued by a military operation. the soldiers of my country were the heroes of my rescue. they were the ones risking their lives to bring us to freedom. not only me, 15 people with me. including three americans, that were the hostages with me during those times. tavis: remind us of what u.s. policy was at this time toward columbia. was there something that america did or did not do, said or did not say that you want to reflect on now? >> i think that i was very surprised to see that in the u.s., nobody talked about the situation of my companions, my three american companions. they had been objected in service. -- abducted in service. they're working for government in that the work contractors in
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the framework which was the aid that the u.s. would give to columbia in order to [unintelligible] and they were doing their job. once they were kidnapped, because their plan was shot and they were captured, -- and their plane was shot and they were captured -- tavis: george bush was president and our government did not have a lot to say. >> i remembered something that was very painful for all of us. we heard this message on the radio. the only way we could hear or know what was happening was through radio. we were given some time and we could hear messages from our families and there were some of the hostages that the radio program was devoted to the family so they could bear
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messages to their loved ones. they do not know if we get those messages or not. my mother sent me messages for six and a half years without knowing if i was hearing her. i was. in one of these messages, my mother was telling me she went to see the american ambassador in colombia. she wanted to ask him to help in this situation, to see how we could be free. the answer was for us, the hostages in columbia, including the three americans, are like people who wore a terminal disease and they are going to die. we're not going to do anything. that was something shocking to a mother that is in this situation. i think this was part of what was going on. the other part is that there were in the military, u.s. army,
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people that were committed and working with the colombians to see where they could find us, and there were searching for us in a very discreet and secretive way. i think even though the american government was saying of front there were not going to talk to terrorists, they were doing secretly what was necessary to find us. and make the rescue happen. tavis: your captors were moving around from place to place as to detail in the book, treating you horribly, you and your fellow hostages during this journey. why in retrospect you think they did not kill you? why are you still live? >> we became trophies. the situation became so
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worldwide known and there w as so much pressure asking for freedom that the new killing us would deprive them from their trophy. which was as long as we were alive and as long as they could prove we were alive, they had this incredible media platform where they could be on stage and be vocal and do propaganda for themselves. tavis: the rescue, how did that happen? >> it was incredible. we were waiting for the helicopter to land and they had told us the international humanitarian commission was coming to talk to us and eventually to transfer is to another camp where we could talk to the high commander of the fork. when this helicopter landed and some guys, a group of six or seven guys with one woman came out of the helicopter, i did not
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see the commission. i saw guys that were friendly with the farc and there were hugging them and there were joking with them. they put presence and i thought they were from the fork. they are the same thing. none of us, none of the 15 hostages, we did not want to get into the helicopter. we thought if we get into that helicopter, we will be transferred to a place deeper in the jungle and it will be done. we were heading for 10 more years of objection. they had rifles so we could not do anything but obey. once we were in a helicopter and a helicopter took altitude, those guys who had come with the commanders of the four, two of them who had boarded the helicopter with us and it was strange, we did not know what was going on. they neutralized the commanders. at that moment, one of the guys
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screamed. we are the colombian army. you are free. that was incredible. because it was hard for us to understand what they were telling us. suddenly, those guys were the prisoners and we were free. everything -- i remember screaming in a way like an animal. screaming and thinking why? i could not control myself. i said this is insane. i have to stop. this is crazy. i looked at my companions and they were doing the same thing. there were shouting and jumping and kissing and i thought the helicopter was doing like this. i thought we were going to crash. it was good -- too good to be true. tavis: let me close on this
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note. do you have any interest now in still being the president of columbia one day? >> no. not at all. i have no ambition. i have an ambition for my country. i think that columbia needs to find her soul. i think there is too much hatred in my country. i would like to see my fellow countrymen opening their hearts because i think love is the key for many things. it was the key for me for surviving. it was also the key for me to be free. true freedom comes with no hatred, for giving. that is what i want for my country. i want this love to get deep in the heart of colombians so we can get rid of what is going on,
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that horrible war. and that corruption which is the background of the war. tavis: i am sure it is obvious i have just scratched the surface on what is a powerful story. the story of ingrid betancourt, "even silence has an end". i am honored to have you on this program and i am delighted you are still with you. >> thank you. tavis: that is our show for tonight. catch me on the weekends and you can access our radio podcast. i will see you next time. good night from l.a., thanks for watching, and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: join me next time with peter yarbrough. peter, paul, and mary. c. then. -- see you then.
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>> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] captioned by the national captioning institute >>
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